Decision Date: November 18, 2020
Panel: Darrell Le Houillier
Keywords: Water Sustainability Act – s. 93; Administrative Tribunals Act – s. 16; unauthorized changes to a stream; riparian habitat; restoration; consent order
Kulwinder Singh Gill and Avninderjit Kaur Gill (the “Appellants”) appealed an order issued by the Assistant Regional Water Manager (the “Regional Manager”), Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. The Appellants operate a blueberry farm on property they own in Mission, BC.
The order was issued in mid-May 2016, in response to the Appellants making several unauthorized changes in and about streams that flow across or adjacent to their property. Among other things, the Appellants filled part of a stream without authorization and planted the area with blueberries, placed fill along a stream bank without authorization, and built a block wall along another stream bank without authorization. The order required the Appellants to do several things including: immediately stop making unauthorized changes to streams; immediately hire a qualified environmental professional to prepare and implement updated sediment and erosion control measures on the property; submit a habitat assessment and restoration plan for the filled stream by mid-June 2016; and, hire a qualified professional to submit a plan to remove the wall and re-slope the stream bank by mid-June 2016.
The Appellants appealed the order on several grounds including that the unauthorized changes were done to prevent flooding on their property.
Before the appeal was heard by the Board, the parties negotiated an agreement to resolve the appeal. By consent of the parties, the Board ordered that the appeal was dismissed, and the Appellants would take certain steps to restore and repair the affected streams and riparian habitat. Among other things, the parties agreed that some of the unauthorized fill could remain in place, but the Appellants must restore the area by planting native species to mitigate the loss of riparian and aquatic habitat. The Appellants must remove the unauthorized block wall and reconstruct it at least ten meters from the top of the creek, on the Appellants’ property. After the unauthorized block wall is relocated, the Appellants must restore and replant the instream and riparian area affected by the unauthorized block wall. The Appellants must also submit a three-year riparian planting monitoring plan and a detailed post-construction report to the Ministry.
Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed.